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January 30, 2018

Hearing VS. Feeling

Hey there!

So I wanted to talk a little bit about the Altaee family today. We knocked on this family's door about 4 weeks ago and they let us right in without hesitation. We taught a little bit but there is a big language barrier because they are from Iraq and they speak Arabic, but the Father (about 50 years old) converted to Christianity when he was 13 and was persecuted for it up until he and his family moved here 4 years ago. But regardless of this language barrier we continued to teach this family about Christ and His gospel which they have so anxiously waited for all these years that they have been following Christ as best they can. Their daughter Rasha (14 years Old) even came to the fireside that i talked about last week. And then we had a lesson with the family on saturday and had them read in their Arabic Book of Mormon the words in Mosiah 18:7-10 and invited them to be baptized. They accepted the invitation with Joy and Praise to God. This was a huge testimony to me of God's power and also of the Book of Mormon. These people hear little of what we say, but when they feel the spirit of God in their hearts they act, and when we read in the book of mormon I had no idea what they were saying in Arabic but I knew they were reading the word of God and they felt His spirit telling them the words are true. They felt that baptism was something God wants them to do. I am so grateful that we have the word of God in so many different languages so that no matter who we are or where we live or where we are from we can still feel the spirit of the scriptures in our lives which invites us to become better and take the next steps to come closer to Christ. 

This week I was thinking a lot about what the Lord expects of me and what I am meant to do next, and the Book of Mormon can help us know what the next steps are.  So I turned to the scriptures and I started to realize that sometimes the Lord just expects us to keep going. He just needs us to keep being strong, keep fighting temptation to do less, and stay faithful in our everyday lives. We all have little things in our lives where we know we are falling short, and when we have a moment in our lives where God isn't giving us some massive load to handle, then maybe we should simply focus on those little things that we haven't quite overcome in our lives or maybe the things that we haven't wanted to overcome. God doesn't always expect us to perform miracles but He always wants us to be worthy and ready to do so. So what do we need to do in our daily lives to lay the groundwork for a future miracle to occur? 

I love you all! 
Love, Elder Cluff

SHOOOOT! GUESS WHO CAME!

So we had the opportunity saturday night to go to a youth fireside with an investigator where President Ballard and Elder Rasband came! It was such a cool experience. One of the members that gave us a ride made a neat comment afterwards. She said that when the apostles came in she wasn't sure why we stood up for them but once we sat back down she said she could feel a very different spirit from their presence. I took that as a testimony builder for me because I felt the same thing and I knew that these were men of God. The other thing that hit me right off the bat was when President Ballard came in and the person playing the piano stopped and president Ballard said "No, keep playing!" and when I heard his voice I recognized it as a voice I hear during general conference and I once again knew that this was a man of God, someone called of God to go out and proclaim His word and preach His Gospel. Now on to some of the things they talked about. It was a Q&A with the youth's previously submitted questions and the apostles were very open and blunt with the youth because they wanted to give it to them straight, the way that they wish they would have been talked to when they were kids. One thing that they talked about that really struck me was when president Ballard said that we shouldn't boss God around in our prayers but that we should be grateful for the things He has given us and that we should ask for help in our personal lives. The reason this struck me the most was because president Savage also talked about a similar subject at transfers on thursday. He told us to be careful what we pray for because often times we might find ourselves praying for things that are not in God's path for us but God will give us what we ask for whether it be unto everlasting life or unto death. They also talked at one point about how important the covenants we make are. They talked about how there is a secretary for President Ballard who has never been married and may never have the opportunity to be married in this life, but she told president Ballard one day that she is not worried because she has kept her covenants with God. President Ballard then told us that if we will keep our covenants with God then He has promised us that He will give us all His blessings.  Another powerful statement that was made at the fireside when talking about Prophets and Apostles was "If we listen, We will learn" meaning if we listen to our Prophets and Apostles then we will learn and grow. President Ballard also said that we have to start getting things from our mind into our heart or else it won't be able to change our lives. He invited all of us to draw lines in our lives that we don't want to cross and then don't cross them. He told us that we can't allow ourselves to cross over to satan's side of those lines. We have to do what it takes to stay on the Lord's side. But then He also went on to say that we can't take the things that he says as condemning or harsh because this gospel is a gospel of salvation, not condemnation, God wants us to return to Him and to be happy. He wants us to have fun while we are here on earth. He want us to have a good time, but He simply wants us to do it in His way that He has laid out before us and He wants us to be good people. 

I am so grateful for the chance that I had to go and listen to a prophets voice and be able to grow in my testimony. I love my Savior and I love this gospel which we have been given to better follow Him.

Love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff 

January 18, 2018

How About That New Prophet?

This week was the best. I loved the funeral for President Monson and then the broadcast today from the first presidency.  I wanted to share a couple things that stood out to me from both of these and so I will start with the funeral. My favorite quote from president Nelson as he was talking about president Monson was when he said, "In a world saturated with selfies, he modeled selflessness." At first I just thought it was funny and that's why i liked it, but then last night i realized just how important this statement was when a member who had us over for dinner told Elder Merkley that he needs to make sure he does not get caught up in his phone too much when he gets home because it can be a terrible downfall after a mission. The reason that stuck out to me and showed me the importance of the previously stated quote was because these days we have a tendency to get glued to what frees us from boredom now, whereas President Monson desired the joy and happiness of others which in turn gave him lasting and righteous happiness in this life and in the next. I continually strive to be willing to put others before myself just as president Monson did because I know that this is where I can find eternal joy for those I serve and for myself. 
  As for what stood out to me in the broadcast this morning, my favorite quote was from President Eyring when he was talking about the joy he has found in the gospel and then said, "The best is still to come because of our faithfulness." This struck me because I think that so much of the time we look back in our lives and we think that we have already lived the best part of our lives. I even find myself doing this with my mission at times or with the past week or even with the past day on occasion. President Eyring taught us such an important principle of the gospel through what he said. He taught us of eternal progression. We never need to cease our progression as long as we are faithful. Christ is continually beckoning for us to come closer to Him and partake of His love and mercy and to take upon us His yoke so that our burdens may be light. So I have now been thinking about what I can do to be more faithful in order to grow closer to Christ so that tomorrow can be better than today. 
   We were teaching this blind man, Herold, this week and he said something that took me back a little bit. We were talking about faith, and the member that was with us brought up the fact that faith can move mountains, and right after that comment was made Herold said, "faith can move mountains, but it will move me." And then he continued to tell us about how he has been determined his whole life to live independently even though he's completely blind and he told us a few stories about how God has led him through cities and side streets when he has felt lost before. This conversation that we had with him taught me a lesson about walking by faith rather than by sight. I learned that I need to trust God more and that I need to be willing to quite literally put my life in His hands and know that He will lead me in the right way and protect me.   

I hope that all of us this week may feel of God's love for us and Christ's loving arms beckoning us to come unto Him. 
I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

January 11, 2018

Zone Conference This Week

So some cool changes took place this week. We used to have zone conferences with like half the mission every transfer, but now we are going to have them with just our zone every month and we won't be doing the big ones anymore... or at least not very often. And the reason for this change is because the Savages realized that the zone leaders in the mission didn't really have to do anything anymore other than go on exchanges and sit in more meetings. So now the zone leaders will have to run a zone conference with their zone every month and give the trainings that the Savages ask us to. Now the reason i'm sharing this in my email is because the set-up behind the way we will run zone conferences and district meetings now I think is really cool and I think it's something that can be applied in our individual lives. So whenever we used to give trainings (like a year ago) there was a lot of talking and not a ton of practice put into it and so we were simply leaving it up to the missionaries to practice it in their companion studies and things. But the big push lately has been to talk for like 2-5 minutes and then do like 30 minutes of role-plays or more. Then once we have done that, we are able to go out and be comfortable doing it in front of random people that we find and we are able to practice what we've learned in our real lives. So the principle to this is that when we learn something we put it not only in our mind but in our heart and we use it. I think too often in our daily studies and weekly church attendance we learn really cool things that we want to apply but we tell ourselves that we will try it later and then we forget about it. My invitation to all of us including myself would be to find a way to apply the things we learn the very day that we learn it if possible so that it will be something that we remember and use more often. One of my companions explained it like this. He said "our skill-sets and our talents, our understanding and our knowledge, is like a toolbox or a carpenters pouch. We only carry the tools that we know how to use because they are the only ones that are helpful to us, but whenever we buy a new tool, we are normally anxious to try it out. We should strive to be the same way with our skills, talents, understanding, and knowledge because only then will we find that in whatever circumstance we are in we have a tool to fix it." I loved this explanation of how to grow in the gospel because I find myself all too often trying to sharpen my screw driver instead of getting a chisel to do the job right. I hope that we can all find new insights to the gospel and find ways to use them every day. 

The other thing I just wanted to testify of is the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the true nature of the redemption that we can feel. In the last few weeks I have felt annoyed or upset over little things randomly throughout the day and I wasn't sure why because that hasn't happened to me in a while, and so I decided to start reading even more of the book of mormon every day and praying for help throughout the day. I started to rely on Christ and I started to tell God more about my days and about how much I love being out here serving him. As I did this I started to change my whole outlook. I started to love my companion even more and I started to have a better attitude towards everything. I love my Savior and I love having the spirit with me to help me and to rid me of sin and uncleanliness. Thank you all for your love for the Savior which gives hope and light to the world. 

I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

The Sacrament

So I gave a talk on sunday about the Sacrament and so instead of coming up with something new to write I figured I would just type out what I said in my talk.

So first off there's a quote that i want to share from Elder Oaks. It's from a talk he gave titled "sacrament meeting and the sacrament" and I quote "we live in perilous times prophesied by the Apostle Paul. Those who try to walk the straight and narrow path see inviting detours on every hand. We can be distracted, degraded, downhearted, or depressed. How can we have the spirit of the Lord to guide our choices and keep us on the path?"
    Now I'm sure you have come up with several answers to this question already in your head, things like reading the scriptures, saying your  prayers, and going to church. But the one that I would like to focus on today is going to church and more specifically partaking of the sacrament. In Elder Oaks talk he goes on to give an answer to his question. He says "In modern revelation the Lord gave us the answer in this commandment: read D&C 59:9-10.... This is a commandment with a promise. By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will always have His spirit to be with us. That spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path. This gift of the Holy Ghost, President Wilford Woodruff taught, 'is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man'."
     So what Elder Oaks is telling us is that if we want to have the spirit with us more to help and guide us throughout the week then we need to participate in partaking of the sacrament, but why is the sacrament so important? Well in the sacrament hymn that we sang today (i don't remember which one it was but pretty much any sacrament hymn works) it gives us a few reasons why it is so important, but I want to share a story from my own life that I promise will relate. So when I was a lot younger, probably between 6 and 8 years old I remember a sunday morning where I woke up with a determination to not go to church. Once my mom told us it was time to get ready I told her that i did not need to because I wasn't going. My mother tried telling me I had to go but I told her about how i had learned about agency in primary and I was using it to not go to church...she then told me that i was not old enough to stay home and that bit was against the law... so i went to church. 10 years later I was playing on a high school rugby team and we had made our way to the state tournament which took place on saturday and sunday, so I played my heart out on saturday but when sunday came my teammates and coaches knew that I would be 2 hours away sitting in a church pew with my family. So what changed throughout those 10 years that made me go from wanting to use my new knowledge of agency to skip church to then wanting to miss out on a state tournament to go to church? well for me personally it wasn't some huge deep understanding of the church or the sacrament and it wasn't because I had more fun at church with my friends than at a rugby game, but it was because I love God and because of the scripture in Matthew 26. It is verse 28 that tells us that the sacrament is a way for us to have a remission of our sins, and this happens every single week, so I simply did not want to miss a chance to become clean and have a remission of my sins. I love the sacrament and I am so grateful that our Savior Jesus Christ was willing to sacrifice so much so that I could become clean. I am grateful that Jesus Christ loves me enough to let me be a part of this sacred ordinance every single week and become better just as often. I know that without the sacrament I would have a much harder and much different life. One thing that we can't forget though is that just because we talk all the time about how we can become clean on sundays, that does not mean that we can do whatever throughout the week. In D&C 59:11 it tells us that we need to offer up our vows in righteousness on all days and at all times. So yes we come to Church on sunday and put extra effort forth to remember Christ and repent but throughout the week we should be trying to keep ourselves free of the dirt and grime that comes from the world. We do this by the other two answers I mentioned in the beginning--saying our prayers and reading our scriptures. I hope and pray that we can all place the sacrament as a higher priority in our lives and that we can remain faithful throughout the week as well. 

I Love you all! 
Love, Elder Cluff

December 19, 2017

Transfers!!

So I got transferred to the Arapahoe zone which covers the arapahoe and aurora south stakes. My new companion is Elder Merkley. I served around him in denver for a couple transfers and it was tons of fun so i'm pretty excited to be with him for a few weeks. He's from washington, Port Orchard area and he is going to be going home at the end of this transfer so i'm his last and best companion.

This week has been tons of fun though. Since they changed how transfers work it makes it a super easy transition because you don't have time to say goodbye to people or anything so you just kind of leave and then you get to your new area and start working. It's crazy seeing all the new missionaries come in and how prepared they already are. I feel like with every group we get they are just more and more prepared and ready to serve the Lord. 

One of my favorite things is seeing the way people change their whole attitude when they see the Light the World video. We talk to so many people who don't want anything to do with us and then we ask if we can show them a short video... with their phone, and for some reason (the holy ghost is good) they let us show them and then we ask them what their favorite part was and all of the sudden their mood just flips and even though they may not want us to come back they are at least willing to hear us out and maybe even participate in helping us light the world through the ideas given on Mormon.org. I love being able to help our Heavenly Father's children to feel the spirit and then give them a chance to act on what they just felt. God doesn't need me in order to get His work done but I am so glad that He is willing to let me help anyways.

It's crazy how close Christmas is getting and how the spirits within people are changing. I hope that we can all change our hearts and spirits a little bit more during this season and direct our lives more towards Christ. 

I love you all!
Love, Elder Cluff

That Was Pretty Fun

I don't have much time but I wanted to tell you about two super cool things we got to do this week. First of all, we got to go to 16th st mall saturday night with our whole zone as well as the youth from our ward (the other wards were lame and didn't come) and we handed out 500 flyers with all the times and addresses of the Christmas eve services in the stake as well as 500 light the world cards, and that's not even counting all of the people we got to talk to who didn't want anything. It was super cool to see the youth in such a missionary mindset and the best part is that they were thriving with it. Once we started talking to random people all of our youth started talking to even more and they were having competitions with each other and coming back to us and telling us how much stuff they had handed out and how many weird people they talked to and it was just so exciting to them as well as us. I couldn't believe how prepared some of these youth were to share their testimony of Christ with others. 
   The second thing was that we got to go teach the world religions class at the cherry creek high school. We had about 20 students and the teacher didn't say hardly a word the whole 45 minutes. We simply talked to the students about what our religious beliefs are and then we did a Q&A most of the time. It was super neat to hear all the sincere questions that they for us and then to see their satisfaction with our answer because they could feel that it was true and correct principles. 
  Well I've gotta go! Have a wonderful week and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Love, Elder Cluff